Audie Leon Murphy (June 20, 1924 – May 28, 1971) was a highly decorated and famous soldier.
Born in Kingston, Hunt County, Texas, to poor sharecroppers of Irish descent, Emmett Berry Murphy, and his wife, Josie Bell. He grew up on farms in the Farmersville and Greenville areas, and near Celeste, Texas. He was the sixth of twelve children, two of whom died before reaching adulthood
Audie attended elementary school in Celeste until his father abandoned the family in 1936. Audie dropped out in the fifth grade to help support his family. He worked at a combination general store, garage and gas station in Greenville.
Murphy had long dreamed of joining the military. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Murphy tried to enlist in the military, but the services rejected him because he was underage. After being declined by the Marines, Army paratroopers and Navy the United States Army finally accepted him and he was inducted at Greenville and sent to Camp Wolters, Texas for basic training.
Through LIFE magazine’s July 16, 1945 issue (“Most Decorated Soldier”/cover photo), he became one the most famous soldiers of World War II and widely regarded as the most decorated American soldier of the war. After the war he became a celebrated movie star for over two decades, appearing in 44 films.
During twenty-seven months in action in the European Theatre. he received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest for valor, along with 32 additional U.S. and foreign awards (medals, ribbons, citations, badges…) including five awards from France and one from Belgium.
Murphy’s successful movie career included To Hell and Back (1955), based on his book of the same title (1949). He died in a plane crash in 1971 and was interred, with full military honors, in Arlington National Cemetery.